I feel like this is a touchy subject and one that has been the centre of many-a-debate recently, but as I said when I first re-launched this blog, I want to talk about more than just fashion and beauty seeing as I’m blessed enough to have this little platform. No, I don’t think I can do it justice within the realms of a ‘synopsis-style’ blog post, it is a multi-faceted topic with many areas of controversy, but I’m going to darn well try! At least if I open the eyes of a few people and/or spark some kind of discussion which triggers change towards a happier, healthier and more educated world, then I’ll be as happy as a pig in sh*t. If you haven’t yet seen the advert first of all, where the hell have you been? (I’ll i’ll link it here) and secondly I am absolutely expecting opinions to be divided about this, I’m also not a media/advertisement analyst or critic- literally just a person with a view point. I’m not suggesting for a hot minute that my beliefs and feelings towards this are ‘correct’ because after all there is no ‘correct’ way to feel or think- if something evokes a feeling or thought within you, you are absolutely entitled to express that (as long as it’s not harmful to anyone else-obviously.)
The advert depicts all types of men ‘standing up’ to what they ( or Gillette) believe is right in a variety of different situations- all of which seem to highlight current societal issues; bullying, sexual harassment, ideologies of masculinity, sexism… Now, I’m going to kick things off by saying that, unlike many people, as soon as I saw the video I didn’t feel the sense of rage/ injustice that some others may have. My initial reaction was honestly along the lines of “for the most part this is great, it really seems that we are moving towards a more socially ‘awakened’ society…” I can totally understand however, that perhaps some may have felt that the advert placed a little too much emphasis on the ‘Me Too’ concept. Yes ‘Me Too’ is an absolutely monumental, undoubtably empowering and necessary movement towards equality and change, and while we know that OF COURSE not all men are predatorial rapists, it did almost give the feeling that due to the amount of emphasis of news coverage on it, it became almost a suggestion that all men might have these tendencies- they don’t. Aside from this element, I just didn’t feel that it was doing this gross dis-service and injustice to men- I just don’t, but I can understand why some people may have found this certain aspect of it a little offensive- it’s the generalisation. One point that I absolutely do agree with and to quote the ad: “Men need to hold other men accountable.” This I believe is true, but you know what, just to flip the coin, I believe that we as humans need to hold each other accountable for all the acts of bullsh*t treatment we commit towards one-another and/or this planet. If something isn’t right, let’s learn to speak up- this is an eternally relevant point that should be overshadowing all other concepts of the ad, they could have easily addressed the ‘Me Too’ concept by placing emphasis on doing what’s right in the future instead of what’s been done wrong in the past.
On that note, I think one of the most important storylines we’re able to extract positively from this is the bullying concept. The focus of this advert could have been totally reversed; crushing those twisted stereotypical male roles society has laid out for years; that men should be strong, brave and never discuss their feelings. To those who say “toxic masculinity doesn’t exist…” to them I say, do your research. In the U.K. it’s upsettingly true that 84 men take their own lives a week, as a result of depression and in my belief, the reason it’s at a lower rate for women is not because we don’t suffer, but because we’re encouraged to talk openly about our feelings- not simply silently deal with our inner torment and ‘man up’– to me the most f*cked up phrase of all time. Men can still be strong and brave all-the-while expressing emotion, sensitivity and being vaulnerable- could the advert have taken this stance and explored this topic more? I’d love to see more of this in the future- honesty, acceptance and compassion while being “the best a man can be” too. I don’t think the advert acts as a call to war on masculinity as Piers Morgan has suggested, but I do agree that given the wealth of experience, information, influence and financial status Gillette have as a brand, they could have been a bit more tasteful and accurate in areas.
In some ways, I think we can all agree that the concepts could have been produced and developed in a much more refined, concise, accurate and inclusive way, but at the same time I totally appreciate and understand what they were trying to encapsulate- men can do better. But guess what…? So can women! I’m not like some of those radical shrieking passionately-man-hating feminists- I’m a true feminist who believes in the power of women, but also total equality and respect for all and I always hold firm the ideology that we can all be better. None of us are perfect creatures, we’re all simply human and for all the terrible men out there there are also terrible women who commit atrocities. Yes, maybe the advert could have encapsulated more of a sense of equality and inclusivity by showing both men and women, because let’s be honest traditional ideas of gender seem to be becoming a somewhat outdated irrelevant notion of the past, I mean, I’m sure women use Gillette products too right? I firmly believe we’ve got a long way to go when it comes to accurate representation in mainstream media, but if, in the creation of this advert Gillette wanted to rustle up a little storm, they’ve certainly succeeded.
I don’t think as a human race we’re entering some form of existential, irreversible societal crisis (that’s climate change,) I just think we need to be a bit better at seeing and respecting the beliefs of others, whether we’re in accordance or not and educating ourselves in as many ways as possible, all-the-while standing up against injustice and realising the power of our words and actions. The bottom line? I do personally think it is a brave and great thing that such a huge, global brand like Gillette are standing up and addressing societal and political issues- I haven’t really seen this done before and this will hopefully pave the way for more positive change in the future. It must, however, be said that the very ‘matter of fact’ voice it has adopted, along with a few too many stereotypical ideologies and a slight lack of tactfulness allows us to believe that this advert and similar media concepts definitely have huge room for improvement. I think they could have been really bold, powerful and far more inclusive with this, and also a lot more socially aware too, perhaps talking abut wider issues like racism, the stigma around mental health, homophobia and the abuse of men too- featuring humans from all walks of life, of all genders and sexual orientations, coming together to show that yes, we as humans can be better. Rather than “The Best Men Can Be” instead, “The Best We Can Be” with more focus on affecting positive change in the future. But that’s just a thought?
I’d love to know what you think of this, I know it’s a very topical subject, I’ve only touched on some aspects of this, but please feel free to share your reactions and always keep any comments constructive and kind- it’s all abut respecting the opinions of others even if we don’t understand or agree with them- difficult, I know, but necessary if we want to progress positively as humans ❤